Column: Upcoming Youth Empowerment Courses – The Clanton Advertiser

By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community columnist

An upcoming children’s workshop will be offered in Clanton to teach young people how to respond to bullying and build their emotional resilience in vulnerable situations. Sean Gilham, who teaches weekday martial arts at the YMCA of Chilton County, said the class will focus on bullying and how to respond appropriately in different situations. According to his martial arts website,, 160,000 students miss school every day due to bullying. Bullying is also the main factor in suicide among children aged 11 to 16.

Gilham, who was also bullied when he was in fourth grade, said his experience began when he changed schools and moved from a rural setting to a big city.

During the two and a half hour class at the Y, Gilham shares some of his own experience and how negative encounters can be diffused by staying calm and treating the bully as a friend using the golden rule: treat them others as you would like to be treated.

“Most people think the Golden Rule only applies to friends, but we already treat our friends well,” Gilham said. “The course will show how to apply the Golden Rule and use it for our enemies. The Golden Rule was meant to be used for our enemies.

The class will also teach skills to help manage emotions and solve social problems. Other key learning points will be self-respect, sport fighting, champion mindset, physical self-defense techniques and the difference between fighting and self-defense.

“For the bullied child, you are not alone,” Gilham said. “You are not alone. We will work together and learn how to respond. Learning these tools will help you throughout life and help you become resilient as you age.

Gilham comes from a family of martial arts experts, which includes his parents and maternal grandparents. He is a certified SQUABBLES instructor, who teaches the art of conflict resolution.

The Youth Empowerment Workshop will be held Saturday, July 23 from 9-11:30 a.m. at 405 Ollie Avenue in Clanton. The class is for all age groups, but is aimed at elementary and middle school children. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes that they can easily move around and jump in, and a bottle of water. Snacks will be offered during the intermission. Parents are encouraged to stay for support and to learn the tools to continue to empower their child. The cost is $15. Advance registrations are encouraged but will also be available at the door.

For more information, contact Sean Gilham at and click on “Kids – Bully Defense Event” or 205-266-0732.

Kristen T. Prall